Earlier this month, an order banning the use of lead ammunition and fishing weights on wildlife refuges was revoked. The order was aimed at protecting over 130 species of wildlife, as well as humans, that are often poisoned by the lead.
LEAD EQUALS DEAD FOR MANY BIRDS
Lead is a deadly toxin known to be harmful to both humans and animals. Lead ammunition and fishing weights affect numerous animals, but predatory and scavenging birds are particularly susceptible. The birds most directly affected include raptors, vultures, owls, and corvids, like jays and ravens.
Symptoms of birds with lead poisoning include depression, weakness, seizures, blindness, anorexia, constant shivering, kidney dysfunction, neuronal damage, and death.
BALD EAGLE AT RISK
One species significantly affected is the bald eagle. In fact, on the same day the order was revoked, a bald eagle died of lead poisoning in Arlington, Washington. The bird passed after a long battle for life, frequently crying out in pain.
In a 2012 study, researchers found that more than one-third of dead bald eagles found in three Upper Midwest states had liver lead concentrations that indicated lead poisoning.
CALIFORNIA CONDOR DEATHS
The critically endangered California condor, the largest land bird in North America, is another species at risk. In 2012, two-thirds of California condor deaths were caused by lead poisoning, which is cited as the biggest threat facing their successful recovery.
WATERFOWL SEVERELY AFFECTED
Trumpeter swans, Canada geese, and every other major species of waterfowl in North America are severely affected by lead poisoning from ammunition. Other aquatic birds, like loons, are also affected. Lead shotgun pellets sink to the bottom of lakes and ponds, and aquatic birds mistakenly consume them, thinking they are grit that would usually help them to grind their food. For example, in 2009, almost half of the adult loons found sick or dead in New England during breeding season were diagnosed with lead poisoning from ingesting lead fishing weights.
NO NEW PHENOMENON
And this isn’t new. The first documented reports of birds in the United States dying due to lead poisoning date back to 1874 in Texas. In the 1980s, scientists estimated that around 2 million waterfowl died each year from ingesting lead. After a significant amount of debate and controversy, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service prohibited lead shot in waterfowl hunting areas in 1991. A study later confirmed the ban’s effectiveness.
The science is astoundingly clear. But it isn’t only scientists who believe lead ammunition is harmful—environmentalists and even hunters recognize the need for a prohibition on lead ammunition.
The recent decision to revoke the order prohibiting lead ammunition and fishing weights shows a blatant disregard for our feathered friends in the skies. But despite this action, it is important to recognize that some states have taken steps on their own to regulate the use of lead ammunition. In addition, environmental and conservation groups are waging their own important legal battles to protect birds and critical habitats across the country.
A groundbreaking law passed by the Legislative Yuan Tuesday officially bars eating dogs and cats, extending legislation passed in 2001 that outlaws the sale of dog and cat meat in the country.
Under these new amendments to Taiwan’s existing animal cruelty laws, anyone found guilty of selling, possessing or slaughtering dogs and cats for meat will face a maximum fine of NT$250,000 (about US $8100). The law includes sale and possession of goods containing dog and cat parts — and those who violate the law could be publicly shamed by having their names and photos revealed.
According to Kuomintang legislator Wang Yu-min, this law is the first of its kind in Asia, where the practice of eating dog and cat meat has come under fire over the past few years. With China’s Yulin Dog Meat Festival sparking outrage around the world, global pressure to ban dog and cat meat is immense.
Although dog and cat meat is not widespread in the United States, there are no laws protecting companion animals here from ending up on the dinner plate — but that could change soon. Legislation introduced last month by Rep. Alcee Hastings, which has garnered bipartisan support, would prohibit the sale, possession or transport of dogs and cats for meat.
Along with outlawing dog and cat meat, the Taiwanese amendment also prohibits the practice of pulling leashed animals from a car or motorcycle. It also doubles the maximum prison term for animal cruelty, now two years rather than just one.
The amendment now must be signed by the Cabinet and Presidential Office to become law, which could happen later this month.
For the first time on record, the Great Barrier Reef has suffered two consecutive years of mass coral bleaching. These events decimate the chance for long-term recovery, according to experts.
In 2016, scientists recorded the largest coral die-off at the Great Barrier Reef on record. They found that 80% of coral in the northern portion of the reef had been severely bleached, and overall over one-fifth of the reef was dead. This year the reef suffered another mass bleaching event.
“It takes at least a decade for a full recovery of even the fastest growing corals, so mass bleaching events 12 months apart offers zero prospect of recovery for reefs that were damaged in 2016,” said James Kerry of ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies in Queensland, Australia.
Combined, the past two years’ bleaching events have affected over 900 miles of the reef. Last year, the bleaching and subsequent coral die-off was largely attributable to an El Niño event, but this year there was no El Niño. Scientists attribute this year’s mass bleaching to global warming-induced rises to sea temperature.
Coral bleaching is caused by stressful changes in living conditions such as temperature, light, or nutrients available. Bleached coral is not dead, but it has lower resistance to disease, slower growth rates, and decreased reproductive rates. After a bleaching event, coral needs time to recover. Without recovery time, bleached coral is soon dead coral.
The Great Barrier Reef is the largest living organism on Earth. It is composed of more than 600 continental islands that stretch more than 1600 miles, and is estimated to be over twenty million years old. It is a habitat to more than 1,500 species of fish and over 200 types of birds that visit the reef or nest on the reef’s islands. It is a truly amazing ecosystem that is recognized as one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
Scientists have warned for years that the Great Barrier Reef was at risk, and plans to protect it were inadequate. The only hope for the Great Barrier Reef now, if there is still hope, is for governments and people of the world to come together and get involved to make significant and meaningful efforts that directly address climate change and push for more sustainable, less harmful ways of living.
A chemical found in one of North America’s most popular toothpastes, Colgate Total, has been linked to cancer and other harmful health ailments.
It’s called triclosan, it’s also used in antiperspirants/deodorants, cleansers, and hand sanitizers as a preservative and an anti-bacterial agent. In addition to cosmetics and Colgate toothpaste, triclosan is used as an antibacterial agent in laundry detergent, facial tissues, and antiseptics for wounds, as well as a preservative to resist bacteria, fungus, mildew and odors in other household products that are sometimes advertized as “anti-bacterial.” These products include garbage bags, toys, linens, mattresses, toilet fixtures, clothing, furniture fabric, and more.
A recent study published in the journal Chemical Research in Toxicology found that the chemical encourages cancer-cell growth. Various studies over the past few years have clearly outlined the health dangers associated with this chemical.(1)
Don’t forget, the government and corporations used to tell us that asbestos, PCB’s and DDT were all deemed safe and effective, yet all of these chemicals have since been banned.
Triclosan can also pass through the skin and interfere with hormone function (endocrine disruption). (2)(3) It doesn’t stop there, a study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives from 2008 shows how scientists detected triclosan in the urine of nearly 75 percent of those tested (2,517 people age six or older). (4)
The Canadian Medical Association has even called for a ban on products that contain Triclosan. (5)
Colgate says that the chemical is safe, in doing so they cited the Food and Drug Administrations (FDA) process that led to its approval in the first place. But according to Bloomberg:
“A closer look at that application process, however, reveals that some of the scientific findings Colgate put forward to establish triclosan’s safety in toothpaste weren’t black and white — and weren’t, until this year, available to the public.” (source)
Believe it or not, these documents were actually withheld from public viewing by the FDA. It’s also important to note that major corporations and the FDA are pretty much the same thing, and these corporations have a big influence over government policy. The only reason that the documents were recently released is because of a lawsuit that was filed over a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.
The FDA report raised concerns that the chemical could cause cancer. You can view the release of the document HERE.
According to Bloomberg:
“The pages show how even with one of the U.S.’s most stringent regulatory processes — FDA approval of a new drug — the government relies on company-backed science to show products are safe and effective. The recently released pages, taken alongside new research on triclosan, raise questions about whether the agency did appropriate due diligence in approving [Colgate] Total 17 years ago, and whether its approval should stand in light of new research, said three scientists who reviewed the pages at Bloomberg News’s request.”(source)
Despite all the evidence, Colgate still maintains that everything is fine and there is nothing to worry about. Will you believe them? Will you continue to put your trust in these corporations instead of doing the research yourself? By now it’s clear that these corporations are not really concerned with safety or care, but more so about profit and making people sick, as well as contributing to the concealment of scientific data. The same shareholders that own these companies who are behind the distribution of these products are also holding major shares in various drug companies. There is profit to be had from making people sick.
Colgate has said that it has no plans to reformulate the toothpaste.
It’s remarkable how easy it is to head over to the drug-store to pick up cosmetics, household cleaning products, soap, shampoo, toothpaste and other necessities without ever thinking about how it’s made, what goes into it, the science behind it and the health hazards that are associated with doing so.
More information is coming to light, especially within the past few years. The rate at which people are waking up and starting to critically question what we choose to surround ourselves with on a daily basis is increasing exponentially. Most importantly, people are starting to make better choices.
Our food system is in big trouble. It’s in big trouble because the global agritech/agribusiness sector is poisoning it, us and the environment with its pesticides, herbicides, GMOs and various other chemical inputs. The Rockefeller clan exported the petrochemical intensive ‘green revolution’ around the world with the aim of ripping up indigenous agriculture to cement its hegemony over global agriculture and to help the US create food deficit regions and thus use agriculture as a tool of foreign policy.
This was only made possible and continues to be made possible because of lavish funds, slick PR, compliant politicians and scientists and the undermining and capture of regulatory and policy decision-making bodies that supposedly serve the public interest.
For example, writing in the British newspaper The Guardian earlier this year, Arthur Nelson noted that as many as 31 pesticides with a value running into billions of pounds could have been banned in the EU because of potential health risks, if a blocked EU paper on hormone-mimicking chemicals had been acted upon.
The science paper that was seen by The Guardian recommends ways of identifying and categorising the endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) that scientists link to a rise in foetal abnormalities, genital mutations, infertility and adverse health effects ranging from cancer to IQ loss. Nelson writes that Commission sources say that the paper was buried by top EU officials under pressure from big chemical firms which use EDCs in toiletries, pesticides, plastics and cosmetics, despite an annual health cost that studies peg at hundreds of millions of euros.
The paper’s proposed criteria for categorisations of EDCs was supposed to have enabled EU bans of hazardous substances to take place last year. According to The Guardian, Commission officials say that under pressure from major chemical industry players (acting via SANCO), such as Bayer and BASF, the criteria were blocked. In their place, less stringent options emerged, along with a plan for an impact assessment that is not expected to be finalised until 2016.
Angeliki Lyssimachou, an environmental toxicologist for Pesticides Action Network Europe (PAN), is quoted by Nelson as saying:
“If the draft ‘cut-off’ criteria proposed by the commission had been applied correctly, 31 pesticides would have been banned by now, fulfilling the mandate of the pesticide regulation to protect humans and the environment from low-level chronic endocrine disrupting pesticide exposure.”
Lisette van Vliet, a senior policy adviser to the Health and Environment Alliance, blamed pressure from the UK and German ministries and industry for delaying public protection from chronic diseases and environmental damage:
“This is really about whether we in the EU honestly and openly use the best science for identifying EDCs, or whether the interests of certain industries and two ministries or agencies from two countries manage to sway the outcome to the detriment of protecting public health and the environment.”
I think it’s safe to say that we all know just how irresponsibly we have been using plastic over the past few decades; I don’t even know if we saw it as a problem until quite recently. The damage has been done and there is now so much plastic waste in landfills (and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the ocean) that the situation is starting to seem hopeless. Interestingly enough, there are garbage patches in the Indian and Atlantic oceans as well, but the Pacific is just the largest and gets all the credit. This is not only terrible for the environment, as plastic takes centuries to biodegrade, but very detrimental to wildlife as well.
In the United States alone, 33 million TONS of plastic waste are being thrown away every year, but less than 10% of the plastic being consumed actually ends up being recycled at all. And, according to Popular Mechanics, the material that is used to make plastic bottles can only be recycled into lesser products before eventually ending up in landfills as well.
Mealworms Eat Plastic!
But thanks to a recent discovery, it seems there is hope. It turns out that mealworms can survive off of nothing but Styrofoam; they can digest it, turn it into compostable waste, and still meet all their dietary needs. This is pretty amazing. A collaborative study between Stanford University and Chinese researchers found that just 100 mealworms were able to consume almost 40 milligrams of Styrofoam per day. This is by no means a lot, as 453,592 milligrams are equal to 1 pound of Styrofoam, but this has opened up the doors to some exciting implications. Many bugs have the ability to eat plastic, but not all are able to turn it into totally natural, biodegradable waste. The plastic also does not harm the worms in the process (phew).
So, Now What?
You may be thinking along similar lines as I was — just release millions of these little guys onto landfills all over the world and let nature run its course, but that is likely not going to happen. What might be feasible instead is that scientists could one day be able to recreate whatever biological process is allowing the mealworms to breakdown the plastic. If we were able to emulate the environment of the mealworms’ stomach on a mass scale, we wouldn’t have to use so much energy melting down bottles and other plastic containers and turning them into new bottles.
Can We Do Anything?
There are a number of things that can be done to help reduce our plastic consumption on a daily basis.
Use a reusable water bottle
Simply don’t drink soda, it’s bad for you anyways
Choose items with as minimal plastic packaging as possible
Buy items in bulk, and bring your own containers or paper bags to put them in
Try making certain personal care products and foods yourself, and storing them in glass containers
daily alternative | alternative news – These Worms Eat Plastic! Could They Help Us Avoid Destroying The Planet?
What a delight to wake up, on Wednesday, April 5, to a story on the cover of the New York Times dining section, page D1, titled, “The Hippies Have Won.” On line, the same article includes the parenthesized subheading, “(the Plate, at Least).”
The article, by Christine Muhlke, opens with:
“It’s Moosewood’s world. We’re just eating in it.
“Consider granola: The word used to be a derogatory term. Now it’s a supermarket category worth nearly $2 billion a year. Kombucha was something your art teacher might have made in her basement. The company GT’s Kombucha brews more than a million bottles annually and sells many of them at Walmart and Safeway. And almond milk? You can add it to your drink at 15,000 Starbucks locations for 60 cents.
“Just as yoga and meditation have gone mainstream (and let’s not get started on designer Birkenstocks), so have ideas and products surrounding health, wellness and eating that play like a flashback to the early 1970s.
“Co-op staples of that time — the miso, tahini, dates, seeds, turmeric and ginger that were absorbed from other cultures and populated the Moosewood restaurant cookbooks — now make appearances at some of the most innovative restaurants in the country, where menus are built around vegetables and heritage grains. Vegetarianism and veganism are on the rise; and kale, the bacon of the clean-eating moment, is now routinely heaped on salad plates across the land.”
The story discusses the explosion of healthy, largely vegan dishes in top restaurants, tells us that, “veggie burgers and grain bowls, once a menu rarity, can be had at chains like Hillstone and Sweetgreen,” and notes “the release of many vegetable-rich and raw-food cookbooks….”
The fermentation craze is also noted, and we read that one of its leaders “bristles at the association of fermentation with hippiedom” and says that “punk is much more resonant.” I am sure the many vegans who came from the Straight Edge punk movement will feel the same about veganism being associated with hippies.
The utterly heartening article can be found on line at http://tinyurl.com/msah7p2
It clearly invites letters that sing the praises of plant-based diets, and opens the door for letters that expand the discussion to include animals, the environment, or anything you are moved to discuss – in 150 words or less. The New York Times takes letters at firstname.lastname@example.org
and requests that you include your full name, address, and daytime phone number for verification purposes.